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Pandemic brings supply, staffing issues to Montgomery restaurant

Published: Sep. 16, 2021 at 7:57 PM CDT
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MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WSFA) - While the atmosphere may appear normal - diners are back inside and the scent of barbecue fills the air - restaurants like Dreamland continue to battle shortages fueled by the coronavirus.

“The uncertainty is really what’s kind of gripping you,” managing partner Bob Parker said. “You don’t know what to expect every day, whether it’s product shortages or people shortages, you don’t know what you’re walking into.”

The barbecue joint said it has struggled to find staff.

“The number one issue we’re having is people, finding folks that want to work, that show up for work,” Parker said.

In addition to having limited hands to help, the restaurant is substituting products that are not available, like certain cup sizes.

Dreamland said its paper supplier, Sysco, said the business was lucky to even have cups and containers.

While pork and chicken are available, the business said the price is inflated. Last month, Dreamland said sausage was not available a couple times.

Earlier this month, the restaurant had difficulties getting its signature sauce. Shelves are stocked now.

The barbecue house is not alone, as a truck driver shortage is limiting the inventory available to business owners across the country.

Truck drivers move 70% of all goods in the United States, NBC News reports. The labor shortage was already ongoing and heightened during the pandemic.

Dreamland has two locations in Montgomery and has seen the effects of the shortage firsthand.

“Last week, we got a call from Sysco that said, ‘You’re not getting your Vaughn Road location delivery. We’ll deliver food downtown. We don’t have someone to bring you your product, which means other people didn’t get it either,” Parker said.

While it will take time to get back to normal, Dreamland is asking for patience.

“We’re still here. We’re not going to stop,” he said. “We love what we do. We have great people that work here, great people that eat here.”

The restaurateur believes inflation is possible, but he remains optimistic on his pursuit to keep bellies full.

“We love being a part of Montgomery, eastside and downtown, and look forward to serving everybody still soon,” Parker added.

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